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Legend Dylan pays tribute to Ulster icon

By Eddie McIlwaine

Bob Dylan pays a tribute to an Ulster icon on Modern Times, his first album in five years which has just been released.

Bob Dylan pays a tribute to an Ulster icon on Modern Times, his first album in five years which has just been released.

The legendary singer-songwriter, who is a frequent visitor to Belfast, devotes one track to the memory of celebrated lyricist Jimmy Kennedy.

Dylan has turned his new song Beyond the Horizon, track seven on the album, into a Kennedy homage.

He even gives a mention to Jimmy's greatest work, Red Sails In The Sunset, in one verse and refers to this 1935 hit for Bing Crosby as "the theme of a melody from many moons ago".

Jimmy Kennedy, born in Omagh and raised in Portstewart, died aged 82 in 1984 after a career in music which earned him a reputation of being second only to Lennon and McCartney in the number of hits which flowed from his pen. Dylan discovered on his visits here that the author of at least 200 world hits, 50 of them still pop classics, was a prolific Ulsterman.

It was probably his friend Van Morrison who told Dylan the story of how one summer evening sitting in the garden at Portstewart with his sister, Kennedy was inspired to write the ballad Red Sails In The Sunset.

"The setting sun was glinting red through the sails of a lone yacht just off shore as he gazed out to sea and that gave him the idea for his verses," explained his friend, the late Leslie Mann, who wrote a book about Kennedy.

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